I would like to share something about fishing that I have observed over the many years. There is an ever growing thought that when a fish bites your line that you need to get it in the boat as fast as possible. Generally when we love something, we watch it on television to learn more about it and to get more of our daily fix when we cannot do it ourselves.
Recently I was critiqued on my catching methods, as a stranger decided to tell me that I take way to long to bring in small fish after he watched a video of mine. I thought about this long and hard, and then I went to watch the video and the smallest fish took me 15 seconds to land from initial hook up. The wheels inside my head began to turn as I thought about why he thought what he had. My best guess is that he or she was not taught correctly.
Hopefully this will enlighten some people that do not otherwise know. Fishing is a sport that should be done with care, bringing in a fish that is what I like to call "hot" is bad for the fish and the angler. Generally a bass is not going to do much damage to anything besides itself, however I take pride in catch, photograph, release, (CPR) and I want the fish to be as healthy as possible when I release it. Everyone sees the elite guys on television pretty much skull dragging bass into the boat. I am not saying this is the wrong thing to do, what I am saying is that those guys are payed to fish and a fish could be dinner on the table and bills payed. So my question is to everyone else, why are there more and more guys trying to duplicate what they see on T.V?
There is a fine line that we all walk while sport fishing. I have seen it all from 100 percent harvest to 100 percent release. I have read many articles on fish feeling pain and that they all die when they are released, most of them are opinions of people, just as this piece of writing is my opinion on the way we should do things.
Here is where some great facts as well as likely results come in. If you haul in a catch in record setting time, there are three things that you risk, one loosing the fish because of any given reason, you will very likely harm the fish that you may want to let swim away that very day, and three, that fish may inflict some damage on you. When you bring in a "hot" fish, that fish has all the energy in the world and will thrash around when landed, you really never know what can happen. There is a reason why you never see this with marlin or tuna, because if you bring a hot fish in of that size, it will most likely kill you and or itself. If you are not sure that what I am saying is true, feel free to research videos of fish that literally fight back.
On the other side, if you bring in a fish that is overworked, again it will most likely have a short life upon release if you do not take the time to let it recover. Fish are not invincible, dragging it through sand, rocks, cement, or anything else is really not ok. These fish die, and as anglers we need to do better. If you can take the time to catch the fish, please take the time to help the fish live if you are going to let it go.
As anglers, we are ambassadors of fishing, we should apply conservation and selective harvesting to our passion. Try your best to wet your hands before handling the fish, this will not allow the fish to slip out of your hands any easier than it would anyhow. The damage your dry hands, sand, rocks, boats, and whatever else you let the catch hit can be devastating on it.
If the fish is a little hotter that you initially thought it would be, take your time and try to keep it from slamming into you are anything else, no one likes to get stuck by fins. If the fish is overworked, maybe even from its own will to live and not see you face to face, take the time, putting the fish back into the water allowing it to gain its composure again, the fish will let you know when it is ready by swimming away on its own.
Pictures are a great memory, especially of that awesome monster that you may never have the chance to catch again. Take a photo or two, try to keep the fish in the water as much as possible. Fish get stressed out and it can cause them to die prematurely. When I was a kid, I watched a dog chase a lamb to exhaustion in about 5 minutes, the lamb died and we ate it. Fish are very much the same way, if you put them through to much, they will not recover.
Lastly I would like to say something about selective harvest. I have no problem with people taking what they catch if it is legal. However as I stated earlier, a selective harvest is key to our kids and their kids being able to enjoy the sport that we love. A fish can take years to get to trophy size, especially is colder climates, while two to four pound fish tend to be eaten by everything to include people, a 15 pound bass is likely close to that in age. These trophies are major players in the eco-systems and do a ton of quality control as well as breeding. So the next time you want to take home a really good size fish, no matter what species, try to think about what you are taking. Larger systems will have larger quantities of trophy fish, while smaller more confined systems will only have a couple, maybe even just one.
Joshua "Kayak" Christensen
Joshua Christensen has been fishing since the age of three, always honing his skills towards bass fishing in both fresh and salt water. His passion for the sport of fishing is only surpassed by his passion for doing it by sit on top kayak. In addition to the work he does with Fish Explorer, Joshua is also the host of Beast Mode Outdoors on You Tube.